June 8, 2013
1st night of 4 and the audience lets the band down
A mediocre recording, which sounds like the master could actually be a really nice listen. The version here is from an unknown gen, and while it is easy enough to get through, there is a good deal of hiss and also some subtle speed fluctuations here and there.
As for the performance, if looking at the details of the show without having yet heard it, the two things that probably jump out first are that this show features the only known performance of Soothe, and that this was the 1st of 4 nights that the band played at the Astoria, the first time that they had ever played a 4 night stand anywhere. Of the 4 nights, there is this recording from the 1st night, an audience recording of the 3rd, and audio from the 4th night in the form of a transfer of the sound from an amateur video shot from the audience, the footage of which has yet to circulate (the audio is available on Archive). The 4th night was also filmed by MTV, with Soma and Silverfuck having made their way onto Vieuphoria, and a chunk of the show featuring Today, Disarm, I Am One, Soma, and Cherub Rock having made it into the hands of traders. Unfortunately the 2nd night of the run, from 2/24, has yet to circulate in any form, although for some time it was thought that the MTV footage was from that night.
As for this 1st show, unfortunately, the crowd let the band down. Although by this point in the Siamese Dream tour Billy was used to being confrontational with the crowd, at this show the band actually give a great opening run from Soma through to Cherub Rock, even including a performance of Snail. Billy's mood is appreciative, and the performances sound fresh. Following the excellent gig from Munich just days earlier, the band are clearly still in good shape. Billy even jokes to the crowd after Quiet that he thinks that this show would be the best of the run, because the band would probably be too tired to make it through the rest of the shows. However, that sentiment would soon disappear, as just 5 songs later, Billy would be asking the audience "What's wrong?", with James chiming in "They're just waiting for the movie, man". So, even with the high hopes for a good opening show, it's the audience that ends up letting the band down.
From there, the energy of the show tapers off, with the band continuing on with their performance, but reacting as one might expect given the lethargic crowd. During the typically confrontational rant in I Am One, Billy instead takes a more deadpan tone, even going so far as to make a joke about the word God being the word Dog spelled backwards. After the song concludes, Billy's parting words to the audience sums things up nicely, "Thanks for nothing".
Surprisingly, when the band return to the stage, instead of giving the audience another standard song from Siamese Dream, Billy instead treats them to the only known performance of Soothe. Unfortunately, that song doesn't seem to go over well with the audience either, and so is cut short with Billy chastising the crowd for talking through the song. The band then launch into Siva, which ends up being the final number of the night (at least according to the available recording).
It's worth noting that the band had just played London 5 months earlier, so perhaps the audience could be given a little bit of slack, considering that at least some of them had probably been at that gig, and so were seeing pretty much the same presentation of a set filled with mostly the same songs. Not to mention that that show from September 1993 was among the most confrontational of the entire SD era, with Billy dressing in a clown suit for the encores as a form of protest to the treatment he received from the British music publication The Melody Maker. In any case, the recordings from the 3rd and 4th nights of the '94 London run show that the band were able to recover from the opening night's reaction, with both of those subsequent nights being solid performances. Given how the 1st night went down, though, it would be interesting to hear how the 2nd night went, and whether any other rarities were played.
This show is worth hearing for the opening run of songs, as well as for that performance of Soothe, but otherwise, skip to the 3rd night as a better document from this run.